Theft is a relatively common crime. In Georgia, theft charges related to personally stealing money or physical assets from another party are “theft by taking” offenses. Such offenses may not involve the use of physical force or a weapon, but they still cause economic harm to the original owner of the assets involved.
People may steal from other individuals, their employers and even from businesses. Some people steal out of desperation, and others do so for quick financial gain. Someone accused of a theft offense may face incarceration and fines if convicted.
Georgia actually pursues a variety of different theft charges against people depending on their circumstances. Some theft offenses are misdemeanors, but some are felonies. When does a property crime in Georgia potentially become a felony?
When the value of the property reaches a certain amount
The categories for theft crimes in Georgia largely focus on the total value of the property taken. For the most part, a theft offense only becomes a felony when the property is worth at least $1,500 or more. Property worth less than $1,500 will trigger misdemeanor charges in most cases. A misdemeanor theft charge could lead to up to 12 month in prison and fines. The penalties for felony theft depend increase with the value of the assets. They can include ten years in prison or more in some scenarios.
When the theft involves certain kinds of property
Certain kinds of resources can convert a theft offense to a felony automatically regardless of the value of the resources. The state can bring felony charges when someone steals assets including:
- anhydrous ammonia
- bank or government property taken by an employee
- gravesite markers or cemetery decorations
- an automobile or its contents
- items people access via fiduciary duty
The circumstances of the theft can therefore be as important as the resources allegedly involved in the incident. Those who are familiar with Georgia criminal statutes are typically in a better position to plan a reasonable defense strategy for the charges that they face.
Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony theft offense can help someone better understand the consequences possible in the event of a conviction and may help them find the inspiration they need to mount an appropriate defense with the assistance of an experienced attorney.